Around 50 youth and adults gathered around a table at the Weledeh Catholic School field in Yellowknife on Saturday to watch Irene Sangris, an elder and knowledge holder with the Dechinta Centre, demonstrate how to cut whitefish, caught by her husband Charlie.
This was the first time the event was offered as part of the Indigenous Summer Games.
The games ran from June 30 to July 3, bringing athletes from across the North, including the Yukon and Alaska.
Carson Roche, the event manager for the games, explained the fish cutting event showcased traditions from various areas.
“You saw a lot of cool styles, we had a lady from Paulatuk using an ulu making dry fish and she was so slick and smooth with her cutting,” Roche said.
Lorna Storr, is an elder from Aklavik, N.W.T., an athlete and longtime competitor in Dene games, she was at the games as an officiant and competitor.
The fish cutting was exciting for her.
“It’s a new event, and I’m participating, which makes it interesting cause I’m not an expert,” she said.
Storr is an expert in tea boiling, where she quickly and smoothly chopped wood, lit matches and boiled water, while also managing mentor others.
Beth Hudson of Fort Simpson, N.W.T., also competed in the event.
“I’m super proud of myself and it was super fun because for me, my dad taught me how to make a fire when I was like five years old or something. And so I texted him right away and I was like, ‘guess what? I just did that,'” she said with a laugh.
Knuckle hop was another game held during the events.
Chris Stipdonk of Fort Simpson is the world record holder for the knuckle hop, setting it at the Arctic Winter Games in 2020. He beat that record at the Indigenous Summer Games, hopping over 206 feet.
Roche said he was “pretty emotional” after the event wrapped up.
“I’m just humbled, honoured that all these athletes competed in our event,” he said.
But he also knows it won’t be the last one, the next will be held in two years, likely at the same venue. But there are plans to move the location.
“I like the venue, the venues really nice, but I wouldn’t mind to do it in a more traditional landscape,” he said.
Roche said he hopes to have winter games at some point and to one day expand so the communities can host.